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Sword of Azrael #1
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Sword of Azrael’ #1 is an exciting reintroduction to Gotham’s darkest angel

Everything you’ve read about Azrael is true, but the real thrill is in finding out where he goes from here.

Dan Watters and company bring Azrael back into action with a book that explores what happens when the avenging angel tries to hang up his sword. This book perfectly nails Jean-Paul Valley’s dual nature, giving us much more of his gentler side than we’ve seen in a long while. It also gives us a handy recap of Jean-Paul’s history in the Bat books, combining elements of his various portrayals throughout the years and somewhat streamlining Azrael’s history in DC Comics. As a fan of the character, I appreciate Watters’ “everything counts” approach. It also makes this issue a perfect starting place for new fans, even as it pays off a number of previous storylines.

Nikola Čižmešija’s style allows for some interesting contrasts between the soul-searching, philosophical sections of the book and the more action-oriented pieces. The sequence in which Jean-Paul is getting beat down and refusing to fight back feels fast-paced and brutal, almost more alarming than the sequences in which Azrael is finally let loose. Jean-Paul’s vulnerability and inner pain is on full display here, thanks to the body language and facial expressions from Čižmešija. The action later on in the book is also enthralling; it’s easy to see why Jean-Paul didn’t want to let this demon out of the bag.

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Sword of Azrael #1
DC Comics

Marissa Louise’s colors are also employed beautifully throughout. During the more tense moments of rage, you can almost feel Azrael’s fury filling the page in hues of shocking red and orange. The flashbacks are also given a lovely separation from the main action, drawing the reader’s eye to these rose-tinted memories.

The secret weapon here might be Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s exceptional lettering, which goes a long way toward illustrating Jean-Paul’s tattered psyche. The differences in lettering show us how much stronger Azrael is becoming, and really make it clear that Jean-Paul has struggled to function with this noise in his head at all times. The moments in which the captions overlap one another might be the thing that makes readers worry most about Jean-Paul’s wellbeing. Otsmane-Elhaou also makes some interesting distinctions between the “heavenly” form of Azrael and the version Jean-Paul hears through the System. There are a lot of layers at work here, and every member of this creative team is making them stand out.

The book does occasionally feel like it’s got a lot of ground to cover in terms of exposition, but those moments are neatly placed throughout the main story, so it never loses much of its momentum. The story ties itself directly Azrael’s messy past with the introduction of a surprising villain, and fans of the classic Knightfall run are going to want to see how this all shakes out.

Sword of Azrael #1
‘Sword of Azrael’ #1 is an exciting reintroduction to Gotham’s darkest angel
Sword of Azrael #1
'Sword of Azrael' approaches its title character with legacy in mind. Everything you've read about Azrael is true, but the real thrill is in finding out where he goes from here.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Takes an "everything counts" approach to Azrael's history, which should please fans
Really gets into the dual nature of Azrael/Jean-Paul, as well as how hard he struggles against his dark side
When the action hits, it's quick and brutal – and shows why Azrael has been kept quiet for so long
The recap is welcome, but occasionally feels like it detracts from the main story – still, with this out of the way, Jean-Paul's new mission can really kick off next month!
8
Good
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